I first noticed the Ypsilon in Liguria last Summer. Unlike here in the UK, many Italians will only buy an Italian car, which means lots of Fiats, Alfas & Lancias on Italian roads. Now we all know that Lancia left the UK sometime ago, but when Fiat purchased Chrysler Jeep in 2011, they decided to re badge Lancias super mini the Ypsilon, as a Chrysler here in the UK, to greatly reduce Chryslers fuel economy from the gas guzzling profile of the outgoing ” American ” Chryslers most of us in Britain are familiar with.
Essentially, under the Chrysler exterior, is the same platform you’ll find in the Fiat 500 or Panda. But, the Ypsilon is longer & with five doors, feels a lot more spacious than the 500 & looks better than the Panda. Now the looks may not appeal to everybody, but I have to say that they grew on me & I really think the Ypsilon is a cutey, particularly from a side on perspective. There’s decent space in the front & back with a roomy boot offering loads more space than in a 500 or Suzuki Swift for example. My test model came with spit folding rear seats too, so boot space can be increased if necessary.
The 875 cc TwinAir engine does sound a little like an old Beetle, particularly in first & second gears, which really makes the engine fun. Don’t be fooled by the noise though, as this unit is actually very capable & will comfortably take you on the motorway at up to & above 70 mph, getting quieter as it does. It’s great fun too, as you can literally throw it around in town zipping in & out of traffic & making SUV’s look like cruise liners compared to the Ypsilons speed boat. Stop/Start was also on my model & this worked well once you realise that the clutch needs to be worked to it’s full extent, to re start the engine in traffic. The gear stick is mounted high on the dash, reducing leg room for those over 6 feet tall, but it’s a sinch to use & really quite good. There are only five forward gears though. You can get two adults in the back, which is a bonus. I had the luxury of twin panoramic sun roofs which does reduce rear headroom slightly, but does make the cabin feel bigger & brighter.
The dash board has been lifted from the European Lancia, which means that the centralised binnacle which displays the speedo & rev counter on top of the dash, has the speedo on the left, which suits left hand drive models over our right hand drive cars. Otherwise, it’s straightforward including a simple to use Blue & Me phone connection & easy to use steering wheel controls. The finish is of pretty good quality & is kept simple in black plastics
For added reassurance, it’s also one of the safest cars i it’s segment, featuring as standard up to 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, Anti Slip Regulation, traction control & Hill Holder. Compared to my B reg Fiat Uno 55 Start , this is a super mini that could save your life. The TwinAir engine was 2011’s International Engine of the Year. Emissions are just 99g/km. It’s 875 cc offers 85 bhp & torque of 145Nm, plus all TwinAir models feature an Eco button on the dash which can be activated to limit torque to 100Nm for even greater increases in economy & reductions in emissions. There’s a City function too, to lighten steering in town. Combined fuel economy, is claimed to be over 65 mpg. It’ll be no surprise to regular readers that I didn’t get close to this, mainly because I never once tried the EC mode. This cars so much fun to drive I couldn’t help myself “driving it” & only managed to get around 38 mpg. It’s not a GTi though, taking 11.5 seconds to reach 62 mph, but like a lot of small Italian & French cars it pulls off the trick of feeling quicker than it actually is. Even with small wheels & thin tyres, it drives well, handling bumps & pot holes with aplomb. It’s not suppose to be sporty & it does roll, but I smiled whilst I drove it telling my son that I would really miss it when it went back ( which I have. )
Like taking a blind tasting of a box of chocolates & getting your favourite one first time, the Ypsilon surprised & delighted me in equal measure. Admittedly, I had the top of the range Limited to drive with all the goodies attached, but it wasn’t the extras I liked or missed, it was the car itself, especially the zippy engine & street car handling. If you are downsizing or work for a company who are looking to take more B sector cars in the recession, don’t ignore the Ypsilon, add it to your list of maybe’s ? For a car I wouldn’t have considered in a market dominated by Fiestas, 500’s & Corsa’s it’s refreshingly different.
The range starts at just £10695 on the road for the 1.2S. The cheapest TwinAir the SE is available from £13195, so it’s not that cheap. But, as Chyrsler are quick to point out, it’s aimed at a more up market clientele, hence the funky shape & interiors. Projected sales figures here in the UK for 2012, are a modest 6000 units, which it should achieve. The Chrysler Ypsilon deserves to do well, because it’s a really nifty performer & should go some way to changing Chryslers fortunes here in the UK.
Not quite Portofino but a Santa Margherita 3.5/5.